The Deep Tissue Massage vs. Swedish Massage. What is the Big Deal about them?

Deep Tissue Massage vs. Swedish Massage

The need for total relaxation and relief from muscular pain is having everyone running to alternative therapy. People are suffering from back and neck pains from the posture they take at their places of work and home. This is as they use the technological devices supposed to make their job easier – they do, but they also bring along a raft of health problems.

The search for the right therapy for the lifestyle associated problems is introducing such terms as deep tissue massage and Swedish massage into their vocabulary. You may be among those that have come across them but don’t know what they actually mean – you probably have an idea.

In the following write up, we delve into the deep tissue vs. Swedish massage debate so you may have better knowledge the next time you meet the masseuse – you may also surprise them with what you know.

deep tissue massage photo
Photo by Fred:

What is Swedish massage?

Yes, you guessed it right that this just one among many massage techniques available to you at the spa. But what may surprise you is that it does not originate in Sweden. It may, however, have something to do with Johan Georg Mezger, a Dutch practitioner thought to be the originator and who referred to it as the classic massage.

The massage technique is by nature western, and it makes use of several movements meant to promote relaxation and enhance blood flow. The specific massage movements include kneading, sliding movements, rubbing, vibration, and percussion. Others include joint movements – both active and passive and joint stretching and bending – of course with the aid of a masseuse, not by yourself.

deep tissue massage

Swedish massage also brought about other techniques such as lymphatic drainage and medical massage. There are also spa treatments that include pregnancy massage, aromatherapy, hydrotherapy, chair massage and geriatric massage among others – all are Swedish massage offshoots.

What you need to know about the deep tissue vs. Swedish massage is that Swedish massage is a bit lighter than the deep tissue massage – of course, the term is self-explanatory. And, if you have a choice – which you always do – always choose a deeper massage as it is always better.

And why should you get a Swedish massage from time to time? Well, the numerous associated benefits should be reason enough – sort of. They include reduced blood pressure, increased blood flow, reversal of the impacts of stress and better immune function.

If you start receiving regular Swedish massages, be sure that you will be more energetic, healthier, less stressed and have a stronger immune system – you will fall ill less often.

Watch this video for more on the same.

Who should take Swedish massage?

As mentioned above, a Swedish massage has a host of benefits, and that should convince you to get the treatment on a regular basis. However, if you are suffering from the following ailments, then it is imperative you get one in the shortest time possible.

Stress is now quite a common problem among the contemporary folks. There is just so much to do and achieve, and that has taken a toll on our health. However, a Swedish massage is an excellent way to alleviate this stress so you can back to being at your best.

In a way, the Swedish massage encourages the release of good hormones in your body playing an essential role in the healing process. There is serotonin, and there is oxytocin. Well, serotonin helps you calm down, and oxytocin produces the feel-good effect counteracting the stress and its impact.

And if you have trouble sleeping, then the massage therapy may be what you need. One hormone responsible for good quality sleep is melatonin. This hormone comes from serotonin that Swedish massage helps in its production. Naturally, more Swedish massage translates to better sleep.

better sleepbetter sleep

Among the several causes of sleepless nights include high-stress levels. And we now know that Swedish massage helps reduce this stress. Therefore, you will not have anything preventing you from drifting off to sleep.

Are you getting worried that you might catch something from the office?

A sort of flu going around and you know it is just a matter of time before it gets to you? Then a Swedish massage may do you some good. And, how so?

Well, the massage will allow the lymph to flow freely into your bloodstream. This fluid is unique as it contains white blood cells that fight the disease-causing bugs. That means you will be strolling around without catching whatever your co-workers are having.

And if you are suffering from painful muscles, maybe because of the added exercise intensity, the Swedish massage will be a good thing for you. Perhaps you have decided to increase the intensity of your current exercise – well, that is not a bad thing, but it will also come with some side effects which the massage will help deal with.

The leading cause of headaches may be poor circulation or even stress. A single dose of the massage will enhance blood flow and take away bad vibes. Many will testify as to the effectiveness of the massage on headache and migraines.


The Swedish massage just like other massage techniques has contraindications. In other words, there some situations that you should avoid the massage or there would be adverse consequences. Among them are inflammatory conditions such as swelling, redness, and heat. Getting the massage with a sprain, bursitis or arthritis among others would worsen the condition.

You should also avoid the massage if you have varicose veins. A deep massage such as kneading would lead to more damage. And if you have a blood clot, a massage would dislodge it, and it may move to a critical organ causing a stroke or even heart attack – not a good thing.

A massage would lead to tissue damage if an individual living with hemophilia – avoid the Swedish massage like the plague.

deep tissue

What is a deep tissue massage?

The primary goal of a deep tissue massage is not to cause pain, but rather to stretch the fascia to accrue the associated benefits. And what is fascia?

Fascia is the layer that protects the bones muscles and joints.  The massage technique also focuses on deepest sections of the tendons and tissue. The deep tissue massage goes deep to enhance the range of motion and change posture. It eliminates adhesions and contracture on the muscles.

The deep tissue practitioners make use of their fists, thumbs, fingers, forearms, and elbows to work on the muscles and the fascia. This technique causes micro-tears on the fascia that eventually populate with elastin and collagen creating more flexible muscles – this is what we are calling enhancing the range of motion.

And the deep tissue vs. Swedish massage differences lies in the objective of each. Swedish massage is for relaxation, better sleep, improved mood and better health. The deep muscle massage is all about pain relief for those suffering from muscle pains. It also enhances the range of motion and is pretty good for athletes – it improves their performance.

Who should take deep tissue massage?

A deep tissue massage is suitable for those stressed out because of one thing or another. The technique enhances blood flow and ensures the release of good hormones. It is always imperative to get rid of any kind of stress before it can do any considerable harm. Research indicates that up to 80% of doctor’s visits come from stress-related problems.

You can get a scar tissue by injuring a part of your body. When it heals, there may remain some problems with flexibility, and this is where the deep tissue massage comes in. Scars can also happen deeper into the tissue when damage tendons or muscles. This often happens to athletes and footballers – and the massage can help resolve any lack of motion as a result.

People suffering from issues like high blood rate and high blood pressure can benefit from the massage technique. As a matter of fact, studies show that a 45-60 minute session of the massage can have a positive effect on the systolic and diastolic pressure – this is, of course, a good thing.massage hurt

Does deep tissue massage hurt?

With deep tissue massage, the therapist must apply a considerable amount of force to the muscles to reach fascia. This apparently results in some level of discomfort and even pain.

However, that does not mean you should suffer in silence as the therapist works on the scar tissues and adhesions. Tell them, and they may adjust accordingly to a comfortable level – bearable level, of course. The therapist can prep the tissues if they are tense and the pain may reduce to a tolerable level.

Feeling pain is not always a sign the massage is finally working. In particular situations, the tissues may actually react in response making it harder for the therapist to reach the appropriate tissues during a massage session.

Some of the possible side effects of having a deep tissue massage include bruising, hepatic hematoma, venous thromboembolism, and posterior interosseous syndrome.

Any Contraindications?

Even though the deep tissue massage has a raft of benefits, it is not always good. If you have a blood clot, a massage can easily dislodge it, and the consequences are dire. If you suspect you have blood clots or have conditions that may lead to blood clots, it is always wise to seek an opinion from your physician – don’t risk it.

Post-surgery, radiation and chemotherapy patients should first check with their physician before embarking on the massage technique. Those suffering from osteoporosis are better off avoiding it, entirely.

The massage should also not pass through bruised, inflamed or wounded areas. Recent fractures, fragile bones, hernia, and tumors are other conditions that should make you avoid the massage.

And if you are expectant or suspect you are pregnant, it is probably a good thing to avoid a deep tissue massage. This massage involves the application of intense pressure, and it is not always desirable for the unborn. However, your doctor may know a qualified masseuse in pregnancy massage – the safer option.

Wrapping Up

And to wrap up the deep tissue vs. Swedish massage debate, it is important to note that the two techniques are entirely different from each other. The amount the intensity used on each of them is different. Their objectives also vary where the Swedish massage is more for relaxation, better health, and better sleep.

A deep tissue massage is the better option for athletes and those scar tissues within them. It is best for those dealing with reduced flexibility and range of movement. However, the two massage varieties will enhance circulation, reduce stress and enhance the healing process. Make sure you get the massage from a qualified masseuse – you don’t want to get injuries from an unqualified but cheap quack.

Shiatsu vs. Swedish Massage- Which One is for you?

Shiatsu vs. Swedish Massage

In this century, no one is ready to face medication when there’s an alternative way to solve their conditions. This is because of the expensive nature of some medicine and certain side-effects that most patients can’t bear. In this debate of shiatsu vs. Swedish massage, we need to find out the one that suits you best.

There are numerous kinds of massage, but I’m going to dwell on four main ones.

This article will also touch on other seven types of massage. I bet that you’ll be spoilt for choices on which kind of massage you should adopt and those you need to ignore.

What is a shiatsu massage?

This is a Japanese concept of massage that focuses mainly on the localized areas. In this kind of massage, oil or lotions are not in use. Instead, there’s the use of a traditional Chinese medicine. This qualifies the massage to be called as an ideal Asian massage as it incorporates features from the two top nations in Asia.

shiatsu massageshiatsu massage

The therapist uses his or her fingers on you to activate the flow of energy in within your body. However, sometimes a therapist might opt to use his or her elbows. The flow of energy usually promotes relaxation because it accesses acupressure points.

Many people find it comfortable in undertaking this massage as it allows them to remain with some clothing. At the end of this massage, the increase in energy will bring recovery to your injuries as well as stimulate your digestive system.

The massage is good for cases such as; sinus problems, insomnia and back/neck pain. Besides, if you have arthritis, this could offer a good treatment to the condition.

What does Swedish massage include?

This is the foundation of massage and the most common massage you’ll encounter any spa you visit. I know you’re wondering why the name Swedish came in place when their other giant nations in Europe. The truth is that the concepts of this massage are ideas of the Swedish physician called Per Henrik Ling. He lived in the 19th Century in the years of 1776-1839, and he worked at the University of Stockholm.

This is that massage that almost touches the entire parts of the body. This requires a session of massage that takes at least 50 minutes and can last for 90 minutes. During that session of massage, you’ll be completely naked in order to allow the therapist to work with ease.

Swedish massageSwedish massage

The process of massage involves massive stroke massage. Some notable strokes are; friction, effleurage, vibration, and petrissage. Only a trained and licensed therapist can do it. Unlike the Asian massages that focus on energy, Swedish massage is based on the concept of Physiology and Anatomy.

There’s the use of massage oil on the adhered tissues that help in releasing tension thus relaxation. However, for you to achieve the full result, you need to tell the therapist the exact location of the regions of pain and tightness.

What’s the difference: Shiatsu vs. Swedish massage?

Now that I’ve introduced to you what each means, it’s easy to distinguish them. 

  • Well, Swedish massage is a massage that works on European concept on Physiology and Anatomy. On the other hand, Shiatsu massage is an Asian type of massage that works on the concept of the energy flow.
  • In shiatsu massage, you can be allowed to be in minimal clothing, but that won’t be the case in Swedish massage. This is because Swedish massage requires you to be nude so that the therapist can access key points on your body. I know you begin to worry how on earth you’re going to expose your nakedness to a complete stranger. That shouldn’t worry you at all because you’ll get used to it the more you go for a massage.
  • In Shiatsu massage, there’s use of fingers only on the localized areas, but sometimes a therapist can use his elbows. In the Swedish massage, the main way to massage is through the use of massage strokes nearly everywhere on your body. The period of massage is longer in Swedish massage than in Shiatsu massage.
  • In Swedish massage, there is the use of lotion and massage oils. This isn’t evident in shiatsu massage where oils and lotions aren’t in use. However, the Asian massage incorporates the use of the traditional Chinese medicines.
  • The foundation of all massages will always remain the Swedish massage. This is to mean that when you’re making you debut in the spa for a massage, the therapist will most likely recommend it to you. Other types of massage including Shiatsu massage will only come after Swedish massage which forms the basis. 

Both the massage can help in treating varied health conditions such as; insomnia, back pain, and headache. But the Swedish massage will have an increased benefit because it heals chronic pain conditions.

What’s the difference between a deep tissue massage and a Swedish massage?

The deep tissue massages always aim at the muscle knots. These knots are also called adhesions. This isn’t the same case in Swedish massage where the focus is everywhere on your body.

It’s true that deep tissue massage is more intense than that one of Swedish massage. The strokes in deep tissue massage can begin from slow and eventually increase, something that’s absent in Swedish massage.

The main reason why people go for the Swedish massage is for relaxation. This doesn’t dispute the fact that the massage has other health values like the healing effects. Deep tissue massage addresses specific health issues. These issues include; chronic pain, postural problems, and chronic pains. You’d be right if you said that the Swedish massage offers general massage.

Seven types of massage

Other than the three types of massages I’ve already explained to you, I’ll give six more to help you make your picks appropriately.  At least that will be lenient enough because the whole article will enable you to know a total of nine types of massage. They include the following:

hot stone massage

  • Hot Stone Massage: The name suggests it all. Yes, it involves the use of heated stone to provide warmth to the muscles thus bringing relaxation. The stone which is preferred in this case is basalt as it can retain heat for a long time.

This massage will offer the remedy to conditions such as; heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. In addition, should your doctor recommend to you blood thinning treatment; this is a right program for you.

  • Aromatherapy massage: This is another form of Swedish massage that involves the use of scented plant oil and the massage oil. The scented oils are also called essential oils. Examples are Lavender and Rose that you can use to promote relaxation.

Aromatherapy Essential Oils


This type of massage helps in the treatment of back pain, digestive issue, and premenstrual symptoms. However, you need to avoid the massage especially when your body is allergic to such oils.

  • Sports Massage: This is becoming very common especially with the athletes who want to remain fit for their activities. It’s safe when you say that this massage enhances flexibility in athletes. You can have the massage when you’re preparing for an activity or when you want to recover from injuries. In addition, this massage can help in preventing injuries.
  • Reflexology massage: This is unique because it’s a massage for the feet targeting the reflex points. The therapist will have to balance the CNS and endorphins in order to alleviate stress and increase comfort.

This is the ideal massage for you when you stand a lot during the day and when you’re always in closed shoes. If you observe it before sleeping, your sleeping problems can diminish. 

  • Pregnancy massage: You can also call it a prenatal massage. It’s popular for the expectant mothers. Due to the delicate nature of the patients, only the trained therapist should undertake it.

If you’re an expecting mother who needs relaxation without the use of medicine, then this is for you.

thai massage photo
Photo by infomatique
  • Thai massage: This is another Asian concept of massage that involves a combination of yoga, passive movement and pressing massage movements. This makes it unique from other massages as it energizes the body. It’s good that you don’t have to remove your clothes while doing this like other massages.

It reduces a migraine, stress and enhances flexibility. 

So, which one is for you?

This is a hard call to make as both the Swedish massage and Shiatsu massage have massive health benefits. This won’t deter me from making an informed judgment and trust me because I’m not going to be biased.

I would go for the Swedish massage because it’s the most original massage. In addition, the massage doesn’t involve the use of any medicine, something that makes it free from any side-effects.

It’s clear that the Swedish massage touches nearly all parts of your body and in your birth status.  Shiatsu massage won’t match it you’ll be in some garments when only areas of focus are tackled.


I won’t mind which kind of massage you frequent, but you’ll agree with me that you need to embrace a culture of massage. This is because of the numerous health benefits and absence of side-effects.  However, Shiatsu massage vs. Swedish massage will always dominate any conversation about massage.

References /top types of massage’s the difference between all these types of massage difference between Swedish and Shiatsu massage